Author Sureva Towler recalls her favorite Northwest Colorado history books | SteamboatToday.com
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Author Sureva Towler recalls her favorite Northwest Colorado history books

Historian and author Sureva Towler is donating a collection of 75 regional history books by many authors to the Call of the Wild Auction benefitting Crossans Market in Yampa.
Tom Ross

Bidding on history by proxy

Interested bidders may bid on Call of the Wild Auction items on July 30, even if they don’t have one of the sold-out tickets to the event that includes an acoustic concert by Todd Park Mohr.

People who have a ticket to the auction can bid there. In order to bid, contact Noreen Moore with the Friends of Crossans, and she will arrange to have someone bid on your behalf at the auction. Call her at 970-638-1055 and be prepared to give her your maximum bid amount as well as a credit card number.

— A person could spend the better part of a lifetime amassing, reading and appreciating a collection of Western history books to the likes of those in the personal library of the prolific author Sureva Towler of Steamboat Springs.

And there will never be another opportunity to jumpstart the process similar to the Call of the Wild Auction being hosted by Friends of Crossans’ Market on July 30 in the historic Town of Yampa, where Towler intends to auction off 75 of her favorite books of local and regional lore. They carry an opening bid of $475, or a little more than $6 per book. Many are now worth more than their original retail price.

Bidding on history by proxy

Interested bidders may bid on Call of the Wild Auction items on July 30, even if they don’t have one of the sold-out tickets to the event that includes an acoustic concert by Todd Park Mohr.



People who have a ticket to the auction can bid there. In order to bid, contact Noreen Moore with the Friends of Crossans, and she will arrange to have someone bid on your behalf at the auction. Call her at 970-638-1055 and be prepared to give her your maximum bid amount as well as a credit card number.

Towler, an energetic woman of 84, has hard-to-track-down copies of six of the Lulie Crawford Pritchett books, written by the daughter of Steamboat Springs founders James and Margaret Crawford, including “The Cabin at Medicine Springs.”



“I wonder how many people realize this (place) was called Medicine Springs by the Utes? I wonder how many care?” Towler said this week in her backyard in Old Town Steamboat, where she keeps a restored vintage sheepherder’s trailer.

High on Towler’s reading list are Farrington Carpenter’s “Confessions of a Maverick” and a vintage copy of John Rolfe Burroughs’ “Where the Old West Stayed Young.” She also slipped a racy volume about the Bassett women, who are reputed to have consorted with outlaws for personal gain, into the collection.

“Ferry Carpenter was the spirt of the West, so were the Bassett women in their time,” Towler said. “I don’t even see who you’re going to interview to get the story of ‘How the West Stayed Young’ anymore, they’re dying off.”

Towler said that in the early days of Browns Park, the Bassett sisters perfected the practice of converting romance into cattle herds. As confirmation, she points to author Grace McClure’s “The Bassett Women,” which describes how the Bassetts provided refuge to Butch Cassidy, Sundance Kid, Elzy Lay, Matt Warn and a gaggle of lesser rustlers.

“It reads like a sexy novel. They were sexy broads,” Towler said. “They didn’t have to rustle cattle, they just slept with the guys who ran ‘em. You want to expand the ranch? That’s one way to do it.”

An author of 10 books about the history of this area, Towler has a refined sense of which books by other authors matter most.

Jim Stanko, who co-authored the indispensable pictorial history of the Routt County Fair, “Faster Horses, Younger Women, Older Whiskey,” and “The Historical Guide to Routt County” with Towler, also made contributions to the auction collection along with local libraries and museums that were willing to part with back-up copies of books already in their collections.

It should be noted that the majority of these volumes are modern softcover versions of originals in mint condition. In some cases, modern softcovers are the originals.

But there also are special original volumes spicing up the mix. Everyone who wants to understand the early days of the town of Steamboat Springs would savor Charles Leckenby’s “The Tread of Pioneers.” Collectible editions of that 1945 book go for as much as $40 online.

Towler carved out her own niche in the local lore with her 1987 book, “The History of Skiing at Steamboat Springs,” which was illustrated with vintage photos.

But the book she might have enjoyed writing the most may have been “The Boys at the Bar,” about the characters who hung out at the old El Rancho Restaurant in downtown Steamboat.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


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